mass notification

Potential Pitfalls of Free Mass Notification Software

By Shannon Gallo

The world is becoming increasingly unpredictable, making the need for critical communications systems more pronounced than ever. From streamlining communications to keep people informed during crises to reducing panic when the going gets tough, emergency mass notification systems deliver a number of benefits to governments and large organizations.

Protecting your constituency or your organization and mitigating risk in today’s challenging environment requires an investment in mass notification software. It’s that simple.

As you begin your search for the right product, it’s important to recognize that not every mass notification system is the same. Here are some of the most common pitfalls to look for as you narrow down your options.

Pitfall #1: Limited Features

Many free mass notification products are great at one thing, but leave much to be desired when it comes to managing emergencies throughout their entire lifecycle.

For example, some products might have caps on the number of notifications you can send out for free. What happens if you need to notify even one person beyond that threshold during an emergency? Similarly, some products might struggle to scale beyond specific thresholds simply because they weren’t designed with scalability in mind.

Avoid this pitfall by looking for robust products that include several features in addition to emergency notifications, such as on-call scheduling and real-time alerting. The right product won’t have any notification thresholds and will be able to support your needs at scale.

Pitfall #2: A Lack of Integrations

The average company uses 129 different applications every day. Regardless of how your organization stacks up, it’s probably safe to say that your team also relies on a significant number of applications.

One of the major pitfalls of free critical communications systems is that they are incapable of integrating with the other applications your team depends on every day. As a result, your organization simply cannot be as efficient as it needs to be.

By choosing a solution that can integrate with the critical systems your organization relies on every day, you can build more continuity into your operations while increasing data integrity, reducing IT response times and improving physical security and monitoring.

Pitfall #3: Mobile Incompatibility

These days, more and more work is done outside the office, and more and more workers are doing so from home offices. In fact, as organizations reopen their buildings after the pandemic, many – including Unilever and JPMorgan – plan to adopt a hybrid model of work, in which employees work part-time in the office and part-time at home.

That being the case, it is crucial to look for a mass notification software that is compatible with mobile devices. Otherwise, your team may miss important notifications while on the go.

Leading critical communications systems come with mobile apps that enable you to stay connected with various stakeholders no matter where they happen to be.

The right system will also enable you to use geo-location technology to target people in specific geographic areas (e.g., if a tornado is approaching a certain subset of employees out in the field and you want to notify them but not your entire team). It will also include a number of mobile-optimized features, such as the ability to deliver multilingual notifications, the ability to poll and track responses via mobile and the ability to use a mobile messenger instead of SMS.

Pitfall #4: Delayed Notifications

When an emergency strikes, every last second counts. As such, it is essential to look for a real-time mass notification system. Any system that cannot send alerts out immediately on various platforms needs to be passed over.

Pitfall #5: A Lack of Support

When an organization deploys any new piece of technology, it’s only a matter of time before someone runs into some kind of issue.

One of the biggest problems with many free mass notification systems is that they don’t offer a high level of support. So, in the event the system isn’t working properly or an issue materializes, the organization using the solution is forced to find a fix on its own.

Because mass notification solutions are so important, it is wise to look for a vendor that offers best-in-class support. That way, if something isn’t working properly, there’s a team standing by ready to resolve the issue quickly.

Pitfall #6: A Lack of Templates

If this is your first time using a mass notification system, it’s probably safe to say you don’t know everything there is to know about the kinds of details you need to relay in an emergency, who should receive the notifications and the like.

If you’re starting from scratch, how can you know for sure whether you’re leaving out important information?

For the best results, look for a critical communications system that enables you to leverage vendor expertise in the form of built-in templates. That way, you’ll get the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re not forgetting to include some very important details in your alerts.

Pitfall #7: Unreliable and Unsecure Solutions

What if your system doesn’t work as you expect it will the moment you need it? What happens if someone unauthorized to access your systems gets into your mass notification system and sends out a message?

The right critical communications system will be completely reliable and built with high security standards so that only authorized individuals have access to both the system itself and the alerts. The last thing you want is for the press to receive word that your systems were hacked because your messages aren’t encrypted or secure.

To learn more about the easiest and most secure way to communicate at scale during critical events, download the article